WIPO Assembly Agrees Budget For 2016/2017; Work Continues After Hours On Remaining Items 15/10/2015 by Catherine Saez and William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization in a late-night session agreed on the budget for the UN agency for the next biennium after a deep debate over financing of a registration system for appellations of origin. Meanwhile, negotiators went back to work toward the early morning hours to finish outstanding issues of WIPO offices in other countries, the future of the traditional knowledge committee, the fate of a proposed design law treaty, and the program of the copyright committee. The members approved a set of decisions that were linked to the budget and financial sustainability of the Lisbon system for registering appellations of origin. The approved budget represents an estimated 5 percent increase over the last biennium, to 707 million Swiss francs. In an unusual move, the members approved the chair’s proposal to “freeze time” just before midnight of the final day of the 5-14 October annual General Assembly, so they can keep going into the night to try to resolve the last few outstanding items. Then, the General Assembly chair had to serve as chair of two committees so that a joint decision on the budget could be approved. The joint decision paragraphs [pdf] included agenda items: 11 (Program and Budget), 14 (Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications – SCT), 19 (Patent Cooperation Treaty System), 20 (Madrid system – Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks), 22 (Lisbon system – Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration), and 27 (Administration of the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications). On the PCT, Madrid and the new Geneva Act of the Lisbon system (the new GI treaty) – agenda items 19, 20 and 22 – the decision states that the General Assembly considered documents submitted but did not reach a consensus. US delegate Paul Salmon and Lisbon Union chair Vladimir Yossifov, after deal at WIPO On the program and budget, the draft decision notes that the Lisbon Union Assembly decided to adopt measures by the 2015 General Assembly to “eliminate the Lisbon Union’s projected biennial deficit,” estimated at CHF 1.523 million. The draft decision mentions “a loan from the reserves of the Contribution-financed Unions to the Lisbon Union in order to fund the operations of the Lisbon System for 2016/17, in case such measures are not sufficient to cover its projected biennial deficit.” The decision also suggests that further discussions will be needed on the budget allocation methodology, and a study should be conducted on potential alternatives. Appellations of origin are a stringent form of geographical indication, which are products named based on a particular region and characteristics. After a deal was reached on the Lisbon agreement, Lisbon Union Chair Vladimir Yossifov of Bulgaria told Intellectual Property Watch, “It is a good deal for Lisbon members.” And it was “long overdue,” he said, as a way to make the system “stable and attractive.” But, he said, the point is also valid for the Hague system on designs, which also loses money regularly but was not criticised by the US. “What is the definition of corruption?” Yossifov asked. “Corruption is a deal in which I don’t participate.” In plenary statements after the adoption of the program and budget, the United States, which played the key role in bringing the Lisbon debate into the budget, made four points on the agreed text. It said that Lisbon is a fee-funded union whose fees do not cover its expenses; that it has agreed to increase fees; that it reflects that the PCT and Madrid unions will not support it financially; and that it does not cover the Geneva Act. The US delegate said the country believes this budget will be “clear, fair, transparent and accountable.” France, which is the main beneficiary of the Lisbon agreement, said the benefits will be seen in the years to come, and that it will not lead to delinkage of the system from WIPO. Switzerland hailed the consensus, saying it is important that WIPO can count on a budget that will meet the objectives of all of its member states. Switzerland understands that the result does not undermine the “unitary logic” of WIPO, the delegate said. “It is not a hodgepodge of treaties.” Lisbon Members Agree to Raise Fees During the week, the members of the Lisbon Union agreed to double the fee for registration of appellations of origin under the system to 1000 Swiss francs. The agreed new schedule, effective 1 January 2016, is: CHF 1000 international registration CHF 500 modification of an international registration (e.g., address change) CHF 150 extract from the international register CHF 100 attestation or any other information given in writing concerning the contents of the international register The WIPO secretariat, on request, provided figures that would allow the Lisbon Union to break even, but these were ignored by the Union. The Union typically registers about 20-30 new registrations per year. The secretariat had calculated that an international registration fee of CHF 3350 would be needed for the system to pay for itself. OUTSTANDING ISSUES After approving the program and budget, member states returned to closed-room informal negotiations to try to resolve the last outstanding issues. At some hour, they will need to return to plenary to approve any decisions they make in the rooms. Some say the issues are linked, so that if one can get agreement, it may dislodge the others. Below is a list of outstanding issues, in no order: External Offices The approved program and budget contains a provision of CHF 1 million for the opening of new external offices in the biennium. The issue with WIPO external offices was the drafting of guiding principles regulating the establishment of new external offices, and the location of the next offices. Some countries had linked the adoption of guiding principles as a condition for further discussions on external offices (IPW, WIPO, 10 September 2015). A copy of the draft guiding principles [pdf] obtained by Intellectual Property Watch lists the basic scope of activities of an external office. This may include: raising awareness, understanding and respect for IP; enhancement of innovation and creativity, including by promoting effective use of IP services; assistance for using IP as a tool for promoting development and transfer of technology. The guiding principles state that WIPO external offices (EOs) will not conduct any activities related to processing of international applications filed under the PCT, Madrid, and Hague systems, or any related financial transactions. “Due consideration should be given to the principle of a sustainable, equitable, and efficient geographical network for the location of prospective EOs,” the document says, also calling to consider developmental aspects, and regions without an EO. According to sources, the guiding principles were agreed on in principle by member states in informal consultations. However, the draft decision did not meet consensus. WIPO should in principle not open more than two EOs per biennium for 2016/2017 and 2018/2019, the document said. The decision said it would prioritize two EOs in Africa, one in Asia and one in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Some countries opposed designating any particular region in the draft decision, sources told Intellectual Property Watch. Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources After Ian Goss, the facilitator for the IGC discussions, issued the week’s fourth draft decision overnight, delegates still could not agree on the decision and spent most of the day today trying to reach consensus. At press time, negotiations were continuing toward the early morning hours. At stake was the renewal of the mandate of the committee and whether it should undertake normative work or not (IPW, WIPO, 14 October 2015). This morning, the Nigerian ambassador delivered a statement on behalf of the African Group, the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), China, the majority of the Asia and Pacific Group, and the Group of Like-Minded Countries to support a renewal of the mandate and text-based negotiations leading to a treaty(ies). Design Law Treaty Efforts have been ongoing to move a negotiation on a design law treaty to the final stage of a diplomatic conference to conclude negotiations. But according to sources an effort by the African Group to include a disclosure of origin requirement has not been accepted by treaty proponents. Copyright Committee Program Earlier in the day, the chair of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), Martin Moscoso of Peru, led informal discussions on the work of the committee for the next biennium. In particular, he circulated a recommendations document calling for the SCCR to continue its work on all three issues it currently addresses: the protection of broadcasting organisations, limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, and limitations and exceptions for educational, teaching and research institutions and persons with disabilities other than visual impairment. The recommendations suggest that the 2016 General Assembly take stock of progress made on a treaty protecting broadcasters and decide on convening a diplomatic conference (high-level negotiating meeting) to be held in 2017. On limitations and exceptions, the text recommends that the SCCR continue and expedite its work. This difference in treatment did not satisfy some developing countries who felt that all three topics of the committee should receive equal treatment (IPW, WIPO, 8 October 2015). 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